Bob held his hands in his head praying while sitting in the parsonage living room’s wing back chair. “God, you called me into this and things aren’t going my way. I am trying and trying but I just need one break. I need something that tells me that everything is going to be okay.” Now into this fourth month of his new appointment Bob understood some things about church life. He had witnessed two rules that were emerging from his four short months as a minister. Rule 1: Things always take longer than you think they will. Rule 2: Things will always get a little worse than realize they can. These two rules consumed Bob as he continued to pray for the weight to be lifted and he reflected on the last 12 hours.
It all started late on Saturday night. Bob frantically was finishing up his sermon when he realized he had not done the bulletin yet. He had learned that the bulletin takes exactly 6 hours to do. Two of those hours were creating the document on his computer. The other four were fighting with the coping machine. One hour to fix paper jams. One hour to print one side, an hour to print the other. Then there was the glorious hour he had to wait between coping the front and the back side. The paper had to cool in order to go through the copier easier. Bob look at the clock, 12:32 am.
At 2:21 am Bob rubbed his eyes and looked over the bulletin for any grammatical errors. He hit spell check four times and the grammar check twice. Everything looked good. Bob hit print and got dressed to walk across his side yard to the church office, the location of the 2001 Toshiba copier, aka: The Morning Star.
The first side went fine. Only two paper jams, three miss feeds, and one error code. So far so good. He neatly stacked the paper and glanced down at his watch, 3:47 am, not bad. He could go home, sleep for two hours, wake up, hit print for the other side, and then be ready for the members to arrive for the service. He locked the door behind him and headed across his side yard to his bed. Has his head hit the pillow he remembered, “I haven’t practiced my sermon yet!”
Bob said a prayer of thanks for the full coffee pot as he poured a large cup with his right hand and held his sermon manuscript with the other. He headed out the parsonage door, across the side yard and into the sanctuary to practice. It was 4:02 am. When he got done at 4:32 am, he thought that he would attempt to run the back side of the bulletin. It hadn’t been an hour yet but it was a cool night so maybe the paper was cooled enough to go through.
The paper hit the rollers at 4:38 am. The first paper jam hit only 7 sheets in, only 73 more copies to go. Slowly Bob approached the desired number of bulletins. He plowed on fighting through paper jams, error codes, and miss-feeds. He pulled out blank copies and re-ran them. 77, 78, 79, and finally 80 bulletins, printed, folded, and ready for the laity’s consumption. 6:07 am.
Bob’s head slumped as he walked back to the parsonage. He threw on a hat and got into this car and drove the 2.3 miles to Waffle House. He sat down on the stool nearest to the window and ordered coffee and a double waffle. It was 6:24 am. He had to be at church in two hours ready to teach a Sunday School class.
12:03 pm. Bob stood at the church door eagerly shacking hands with his parishioners. No one mentioned he looked like, well, crap. Bob thought to himself, “I pulled it off. I survived with no major hiccups. I can go home and sleep until Monday. YEAH!” The last person in line was Mr. George Rutledge, the chair of the Pastor Parish Committee. He shook Bob’s hand and then said those dreaded words, “Can I talk to you for one second.” They went to the corner of the sanctuary, away from the exiting masses.
“Bob,” he said, “I think you are doing a great job here. You have been working really hard. You have had good services and good sermons. I really enjoyed today’s sermon especially. I thought it was really well put together and flowed nicely. I loved the connotations that we, as non-Jews, are the Gentiles of the world and we should be thankful that Jesus opened his grace up to us. The only thing I have to say is I am not sure what it had to do with your sermon title. The only thing I can think of is that should proofread the bulletin a little closer next time. Chin up Bob, chin up. You are doing a good job. Keep working hard and it will pay off.”
Bob stood there for a second and George headed for the main doors. Bob, now confused, went back up to the pulpit to look at bulletin. He knew that he didn’t choose a flashy sermon title this week. He thought he would go with something basic. Bob opened the bulletin and read the sermon title, “Jesus loves Genitals.”
Bob waited till the last car was out of the parking lot and then he hauled himself home and collapse in the first thing that would hold him up. He held his head while he prayed, sitting in the wing back chair of the parsonage’s living room.